In a tragic turn of events, a fresh wave of violence erupted in the Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, resulting in the death of two individuals amidst an ongoing land dispute between the Abaomege and Ishinkwo communities. According to an anonymous source within the community, the victims were returning from a fishing expedition when they were shot dead by armed individuals associated with the communal conflict.
The incident has left residents of both communities in a state of panic, with shops in Abaomege, which was previously bustling with activity, being forced to close since Tuesday morning. The situation has caused fear and unrest to permeate the affected villages.
The unnamed source stated, “What we saw here in the morning of today (Tuesday) was unexpected. Two people were killed by the communal warriors this morning, and a policeman was also shot, but, as I learnt, he didn’t die. It’s terrible here. People are running helter-skelter. Shops in the popular Abaomege axis have been shut down since morning. There is fear everywhere, and the villages are in a panicky situation.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in Ebonyi State, SP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, confirmed the incident and provided further details. Onovwakpoyeya stated that the two civilian victims were pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, while the injured police officer was receiving treatment at an undisclosed medical facility in the state.
She said, “Three persons, including a police officer who was returning home after the close of work, were shot at the Abaomege-Oshinkwo communal crisis area by the Oshinkwo warriors. The victims were rushed to the hospital. Two of the victims (civilians) were confirmed dead, but the policeman is responding to treatment. However, an intensive manhunt is underway for the fleeing suspects.”
It is worth noting that the land dispute between the Abaomege and Ishinkwo communities has persisted for several years. In 2022, Mr. Innocent Elum, the Director of Legal Services for the Ishinkwo Autonomous Community, disclosed that the communal crisis had its roots as far back as 1902. The ongoing conflict had already claimed the lives of at least seven individuals in the previous year.
The recent escalation of violence serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for resolution and peace in the region. The authorities and community leaders are expected to intensify efforts to find a lasting solution to the long-standing land dispute, aiming to prevent further loss of life and ensure the safety and well-being of the affected communities.